Street art is born spontaneous, without construction sites or announcements, it is born spontaneous like ivy between old buildings or between cobblestones that have left space for the stem of a flower. Spontaneity and the relationship with the street are two of the many characteristics with which we can try to define the work of JBROCK, an artist who has been part of the Roman underground graffiti scene since the 1990s, the city in which he now presents JBROCK SEVEN VARIATIONS 2000-2022. The solo exhibition is hosted in the spaces of Contemporary Cluster and is curated by Giacomo Guidi in collaboration with Drago Publisher, Ginnika and Honiro.
The exhibition is the final act of an intinerant project that began a year ago, which in seven stages has taken the artist’s style and his iconic character Ciccio, reinterpreted over time in a great variety of forms. Inspired by a long figurative and pictorial tradition, the underground world continues to be part of JBROCK’s work in this exhibition, coherently inserted in the context of the gallery. Collater.al had a chat with the artist at the opening of the exhibition.
Hi Jacopo, who is Ciccio?
It is a drawing that I have been working on and interacting with on the streets since the late 1990s, over time the subject has evolved stylistically. It all started when, at a certain point in my artistic production, what I had been doing up to that point had bored me, including galleries. So I decided – after reading “The New World” by Aldous Huxley – to make an experiment: to refuse all invitations from the official art system and to focus all my street work only on Ciccio, a subject that fully represented my beginnings and the purest and least winking part of my work. I therefore began to look for strategic points in the city where I could place him, with the intention, little by little, day by day, of influencing the people who daily walk the streets of the capital to such an extent that they would recognise him as if he were their own dear one.
You are an artist who has presented in the streets and in galleries, how does the work of an artist change in these two different contexts? Does it change the meaning of street art or are they two different things?
My work, on a technical level, remains the same. Certainly the context changes, the street is a very interesting place to interact and I have never stopped doing it and noticing who does it. In the gallery it doesn’t rain…
Street art is done in the street.
You are Roman, and Rome is the city of faces and icons, how do your characters fit into this figurative tradition?
I would say absolutely spontaneously, a bit like the caper plants on the Aurelian Walls, where something can be born, as nature teaches us.
What’s SETTE VARIAZIONI 2000-2022?
It all started with an invitation from Paulo Von Vacano, a friend and DRAGO publisher, who proposed that I exhibit one of my works at Porta Portese, an idea of Giacomo Guidi of Contemporary Cluster. The whole thing, as often happens, turned into a collaboration between various visions and various people.
In the end, I decided to summarise in seven steps the various stylistic evolutions of Ciccio over time, a design I have been working on for more than 20 years.
This was presented on the street in seven episodes, during which my friend and photographer Niccolò Berretta documented with his lens and his unique way of impressing film the various particular realities that spontaneously presented themselves before us.
The final idea was to collect the resulting material in an exhibition curated by Giacomo Guidi and to produce, together with DRAGO, a collector’s catalogue inspired by the fanzines of 1990s underground culture.